Skip to comments.Vegan diet reverses diabetes symptoms, study finds
Posted on 07/28/2006 4:30:14 AM PDT by grundle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who ate a low-fat vegan diet, cutting out all meat and dairy, lowered their blood sugar more and lost more weight than people on a standard American Diabetes Association diet, researchers said on Thursday.
They lowered their cholesterol more and ended up with better kidney function, according to the report published in Diabetes Care, a journal published by the American Diabetes Association.
Participants said the vegan diet was easier to follow than most because they did not measure portions or count calories. Three of the vegan dieters dropped out of the study, compared to eight on the standard diet.
"I hope this study will rekindle interest in using diet changes first, rather than prescription drugs," Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which helped conduct the study, told a news conference.
An estimated 18 million Americans have type-2 diabetes, which results from a combination of genetics and poor eating and exercise habits. They run a high risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and limb loss.
Barnard's team and colleagues at George Washington University, the University of Toronto and the University of North Carolina tested 99 people with type-2 diabetes, assigning them randomly to either a low-fat, low-sugar vegan diet or the standard American Diabetes Association diet.
After 22 weeks on the diet, 43 percent of those on the vegan diet and 26 percent of those on the standard diet were either able to stop taking some of their drugs such as insulin or glucose-control medications, or lowered the doses.
The vegan dieters lost 14 pounds (6.5 kg) on average while the diabetes association dieters lost 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg).
An important level of glucose control called a1c fell by 1.23 points in the vegan group and by 0.38 in the group on the standard diet.
A1c gives a measure of how well-controlled blood sugar has been over the preceding three months.
In the dieters who did not change whatever cholesterol drugs they were on during the study, LDL or "bad" cholesterol fell by 21 percent in the vegan group and 10 percent in the standard diet group.
The vegan diet removed all animal products, including meat, fish and dairy. It was also low in added fat and in sugar.
The American Diabetes Association diet is more tailored, taking into account the patient's weight and cholesterol. Most patients on this diet cut calories significantly, and were told to eat sugary and starchy foods in moderation.
All 99 participants met weekly with advisers, who advised them on recipes, gave them tips for sticking to their respective diets, and offered encouragement.
"We have got a combination here that works successfully," said Dr. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto, who worked on the study. "The message that we so often get with diet is that it is no good because nobody follows it for very long."
Dr. Joshua Cohen, George Washington University associate professor of medicine, said everyone diagnosed with diabetes is told to start eating more carefully.
"That may be among the hardest things that any of us can do," Cohen told the news conference.
The vegan diet "is at least as good, if not better than traditional approaches," Cohen said.
Vance Warren, a 36-year-old retired police officer living in Washington, said he lowered his a1c from 10.4, considered uncontrolled diabetes, to 5.1, considered a healthy level, over 18 months. "My life is much better being 74 pounds (34 kg) lighter," Warren told the news conference.
I'll bet it is, Mr. Warren! Good on you!
Interesting that he's a "retired police officer" at 36. I wonder if he's on disability retirement, due to complications of his (former) weight.
No, excercies and eating 1/3 of what your normal diet is reverses diabetes.
I am living proof.
Be active and leave the spoon in the drawer.
Hmmmm... I do have some Rocky Road Ice Cream calling me on this cool, sultry day....darn back is out and I can't bend down to pull it from the freezer.
Smores sound good too but again all I can take is one else the body goes nuts.
I have type 2 diabetes and it isn't the meat and dairy products that are the problem. It's the carbohydrates. As long as I keep the starches, pasta, bread, etc. at a minimum my blood sugar is under control. As with anything else, moderation is the key.
Too many years at the donut shop.
Wonder how many simple carbs from sugar and highly refined grains were on the Vegan diet? Most vegans I know only eat vegetables, fruits and natural grains. Nothing animal related at all, which cuts out practically all jumk carbs.
Good rule of thumb: When you cook, your ingredients shouldn't have ingredients.
Oh sooo true I like my home made soup but I use black rice in the this time of year Chicken, squash veg soup.
THe white rice and taters are killer however I can eat 1/4 of a tator and stay in healthy range.
Have to admit being diabetic in reverse not alot of money goes to the local grocery store and my saving acct. is growing.
Didn't spend millions of years getting to the top of the food chain, to eat salad.
ping for later
Animal products have no carbs at all (except for milk which has milk-sugar). I think you meant to say "junk calories".
Do cows have cholesterol and if so, where do they get it from?
Dr. John McDougall has been telling us this for 20 years but no one will listen. Take a look at this website.. http://www.drmcdougall.com Some really good info about healthy eating and how it can cure some of the cronic problems many of us have.
Interesting. Can you suggest any reading material that supports this?
I was making an observation that the Vegan diet may/could also have a very low glycemic index, i.e. junk calories, just as a ketogenic diet like the Atkins plan does. It is simple carbs that trigger the insulin response.
A lot of foods which have simple carbs in them that you avoid on a ketogenic diet, such as Pasta and bread, contain animal products; eggs, milk, animal fat, etc., so a Vegan wouldn't eat them. Most of the Vegans are also very conscious about what they drink, favoring "all natural", "organic", etc., thus avoiding more junk calories in soda, refined juice, etc.
So, for controlling the insulin reaction, a Vegan diet *could* be effective for the same reason a ketogeninc diet is. Granted, not all vegans would make food choices that would result in a very low carb intake, but the opportunity is there.
In short, the study may have proven what we already know. Simple carbs from sugar and refined grains can wreck your blood sugar.
If you go out and kill your own meat, and eat it, as well as everything else, in moderation, you are on the right track.
The problem with all food product offered cheaply in supermarkets is whats in it and what was it grown with...I am not crazy about meat pumped up with hormones and massive doses of steroids and antibiotics, nor vegitable doused with fertilizers and lethal insecticides.
Like most people I don't grow enough of my own vegitables nor shoot enough of my own game meat to really make a difference in my diet.
I got my blood sugar under control by living on a low carb diet. I like meat and eat it most meals. On my low carb diet,exercise and current medication I have lost 35 lbs and brought my blood sugar into a controlled range under 125 from over 300. A new medication I just started is also very good. It is called "Beyeta" and is a last step before insulin.
I read my first post again and see what you meant here. I mixed the metaphor so to speak.
It is interesting though. I would like to see the vegans diet plan. I bet it was low on the junk carbs. I am not diabetic, but battle my weight. If I avoid potatoes, white rice, bread, pasta and sweets - oh, and beer :(, I can eat all I want and won't gain an ounce. I put some simple carbs in and my clothes will immediately begin to shrink!
If you pursue such a diet long enough, you can begin to smell the fructose in green apples as you enter the grocery store.
The sort of vegan diets I've looked at are short on fats and oils. There's this false belief out there that it's "sugar" and "fat" that packs on the pounds. Actually, for most folks, it's starch and starch and starch and starch that do the job.
Dairy I could believe, since lactose is basically a form of sugar.... but meat? Its protien, what benefit is there from cutting out protien?
I've done the Vegan thing. It soooo took the joy out of eating out with my husband. But it does work.
Beats me. As others more familiar with the subject are saying, it's possible that other factors are responsible for the benefits of the vegan diet, and the avoidance of meat isn't what helps.
However,my hip went out on me not too long ago and now I can't walk well so the weight is coming back.
Atkins was surprisingly easy for me,a milk-a-holic,bread-a-holic,chocoholic,junk food-a-holic,to follow. My doctor told me that it was because protein (of which Atkins provides a lot)is better able than any other type of food to turn off the little switch in your head that tells you that you're hungry.
I've never heard of it. Sounds interesting.
Comapred to white rice, what does it taste like?
It is amazing how little food your body needs. I cut my callories by 2/3 and do aerobic exercise 7 days a week. I used to just lift weights 5 days a week. I have now gone from 240lbs to 195lbs and my benches and squats have suffered little. The main thing though is that my blood pressure went from pre-hypertension to 115/65 and my heart rate went from 80bpm to 48bpm.
Conclusion: Your body does not like being overweight and it reacts very quickly when you shed pounds.
Exercise and a low carb, with plenty of protein (meat) had my blood sugar normal within a week. Whatever works.
That's exactly what makes my clothes shrink!
The American Medical Association (AMA), which actually represents the medical profession, has called PCRM a fringe organization that uses unethical tactics and is interested in perverting medical science.
I don't like the PCRM but it IS true that a vegan diet is very healthy. Even if a person doesn't want to be vegan or vegetarian, eating less animal protein and even less refined carbs will help diabetes. Also, exercise, vigorous exercise is the absolute key. Even if a person is a meat eater, it depends on what kind and how often the meat is consumed. My FIL is almost 80 but he HUNTS his own meat which is exercise and guaranteed not to contain toxic poison chemicals, red dyes to make the meat look all pretty,etc.
Wild black rice is very fiber rich. White rice is processed, bleached garbage.
I've not eaten in the longest time. My protein is fine. I get it from green vegetables. B12 is great. Except for the little milk in my morning coffee, I don't eat dairy anymore because raw cheese can be expensive. Meat is not the only source of protein. Where do you think animals get their protein from? Plants.
I am a vegetarian who eats a lot of unprocessed foods and raw veggies and fruits. I tend to emphasize the greens and sprouted lentils for more protein. I try to stay away from sweet fruits,etc. My fasting blood sugar was 73 last time it was tested and I had no nutritional issues. My sister was quite heavy and lost weight eating a vegetarian diet emphasizing raw cheese and organic fruits and veggies. I cut out all refined carbs and it's true. Once you cut out refined carbs, the weight just peels off (if you exercise!).
Keep a small bottle of bitter melon capsules on hand. It's derived from a very bitter gourd and it lowers blood sugar like gluco drugs. I used to tell my customers that if they really want to eat something sweet to eat the sweets and then take one or two of the capsules. It's worked every time. Oh yeah, sprouting lentils and eating heavy fiberous starches like quinoa and oatgroats help too.
I've heard that taking a shot of hard liquor can also lower blood sugar.
Well maybe...I have an uncle that guzzles 180 proof rum and has no diabetes. I don't know about the liver :D
Darned (as they would say in the good old days), is that it?
Perhaps a dumb question...
Don't animals have a different digestive system than we do?
One that would make it easier for them to obtain protein from plants?
Your liver turns ALL that stuff into sugar. The trick is to eat only low glycemic vegetables to get your carbohydrates. That's going to be tomatoes, lettuce, celery, raw carrots, and so forth, forever!
The "complex carbohydrates" stuff was fake anyway. Doesn't matter whether the carbs are complex or simple, the body has ways of converting all of them instantly to exactly the type of sugar it prefers. Unless those carbs are wrapped in fiber (which is not converted to a preferred sugar), it's going to go in right now, not later, and it has nothing to do with the chemistry of the particular digestible carbohydrate you are consuming.
Thank you! You beat me to it. Unfortunately this fact will get lost in the "I turned my life around by eating tofu" noise.
I'm on Byetta (proper spelling) as well. Gee, it's been a year now. It's not a 'last step before insulin,' You can be prescribed Byetta after being on insulin. Byetta is a hormone and works differently than insulin.
I used Topamax for a number of months, went on Atkins, which really helped control the blood sugars, helped with weight loss, and let me eliminate insulin. While I thought I was watching the carbs before, it's not until you do something like Atkins that you really get a feel for staring those damn carbs in the face, not just watching them. : )
Now I take Byetta. I keep a fast acting insulin on hand for when I forget or am traveling (hard to lug that Byetta cold pack around - I'd rather just eat and treat w/the insulin pen).
I go to a university diabetes center. They tell me that in about a year we'll be able to take Byetta once a week. See also: http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3060
Well, go eat something before you get sick!
Reread my posts, I never said meat was the only source of protein, I said I don't see how cutting out meat is going to have any effect on diabetes... Dairy, yes, its full of sugars, but meat? Its fat and protien, neither of which messes with blood sugar levels.
I'm with you on wild game being more healthy than the chemically-loaded farm animals. That and lower carb intact are the way to go. CRM nutballs don't give a rip about humans; they want to stop the harvesting of animals.
I wasn't challenging your statement, just talking about my experiences with protein.
Have no idea. I know that I've not had issues.
I never joined PETA, PCRM is a arm of the PETA organisation. I do all my vegetarian advocacy and animal welfare campaigning on my own. They're too radical for me to associate with. MY FIL will never stop eating meat. I won't try as it's keeping him in very good shape. He also grows a substantial garden and works in it almost every day. Country life has big benefits. I see this now that I've returned to Long Island for a visit.